Training for Ultra

Sunday two weeks ago, I was listening to an Abraham Hicks CD. Abraham said, “quit picking fights with yourself.” Somehow at that moment, my energy shifted. I had a moment of clarity regarding a fight I was having with myself. I know what I want to do with my life and I was suddenly able to do it. I immediately quit my part-time cashier job and focused all my energy on training for ultra marathons. The S&P 500 went up. My life expanded.

For the past two weeks, I’ve achieved 90 miles per week in jogging and walking plus an average of 20 minutes a day of strength training. Even some cross-training on exercise machines has been accomplished. No wonder I spent part of the afternoon laying on the bed, digesting food and reading books.

Every morning, for two hours, I study philosophy. I’ve recently been heavily interested in Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Plato plus Descartes plus NASA have given me an equation for the operation of the universe and the meaning of life. Yeah, I won’t bore you with the details of universal microwaves and folded dodecahedrons.

I always wanted to be an athlete and a scholar. This is what life looks like for such a person.

In 3 weeks, I have a 50k (31 mile) race. Barring a heat wave, I am ready to go. I am better trained than I was last April when I did the same course. But the real goal of this fall is a 50-mile race in October. The 90-mile weeks are really aimed at this. In the 50k race, I will be the oldest entrant. In the October race, some people my age will be doing 100 miles. I have yet to figure out that mental challenge.

I was jogging around a small park in Missouri, wondering when I would stop for the day. Other people were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Other runners were touring Mont Blanc. All of us were expressing the human need to expand; and not the chain of pain that most people drag around with them. I’m glad I’m a runner.

Unlabeled: An Essay on Radical Feminism

Thesis: I am not gender non-conforming but a radical feminist. There is a difference. The first is a negative label given to us by the trans movement. The second expresses a feminine ethos of expanding the envelope of what it means to be a woman. However, both of these are labels. Be who you are without society’s label.

In 1972, Helen Reddy was belting out “I am woman, hear me roar…” I was thirteen. I still remember that song. I went on to study engineering and have a career as an engineer. I was smarter than the boys. I didn’t marry or have kids. I more or less continued on with life as a well-funded single woman. I didn’t take up the stereo-typed life of a mainstream woman: married, kids, job, house in the suburbs, debt, etc. I never conformed to the stereotypical female lifestyle.

Along comes 2016 (I was 57) and Caitlyn Jenner comes out as trans. I hadn’t thought about trans-gender until that point. Suddenly, I wondered if that was what was wrong with me. After much soul searching I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to be a man. But I’m still wearing boy’s Levis and no makeup and getting called “sir” pretty often.

As a result of the LGBTQ+ movement, this new terminology and labeling have emerged. I suppose I could call myself gender-nonconforming, or AKA genderqueer. What a derogatory label to put on oneself. I’ve ever since been hateful towards trans-women because they are not women and in fact downgrading the power of the true feminine. A woman’s biology is what it is and no man can claim it just by taking hormones or having surgery.

Oh well. If you are Q then, eff it. Go on with life.

However, I am also a meditator and a person in connection with my higher self. And a person who more and more loves the inner child or true self who came to be on the planet. My higher self loves me and doesn’t think of me as queer at all. This morning, I was writing in my journal and then I meditated and then I wrote in my journal some more. Suddenly the words “Radical feminist” came into my mind, out of nowhere. And suddenly I felt my life re-framed and transformed. I’m NOT some queer gender non-conforming person. I’m a radical feminist. I’m a powerful example of expanding the type of life available to a woman.

I fully accept my female biology and my life outside the gender box. Sing along with me.

Helen Reddy, I Am Woman Lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Race Report

First of all, I did a really great job of running a marathon. Second of all, the cabin sucked. Driving went fine.

I drove from Kansas City to Fulton Illinois, directly to the race course on the day before the race. I wanted to make sure I knew where the course was. I met Clint and Tedford there, so I knew I had the right place. Then I proceeded to the campground.

I think I realized from the instant I first walked into the cabin that I didn’t like it. Mostly because it was dark inside (no windows) with poor lighting. The air conditioner was very noisy. The porch might have been nice to sit on but it was in the sun, so too hot to sit there. I put my chair in the shade in the grass and found it very buggy. The shower house was dark also, though it did have real toilets. The camping area only had a pit toilet with no light or door. During the night, I found my sleeping situation not comfortable, being too hot or too cold depending on if the AC was on. The AC kept waking me up. I found myself peeing in a plastic tub I brought for that purpose, but still, it was awkward and made me wonder what the hell I was doing there.

I got up around 3:30 to prepare to drive to the race which started at 5. I found myself with the phone, looking at hotel rooms in nearby Clinton Iowa. I was realizing that it was an impossible task to recover from a full marathon in that cabin and be ready to go to a 5 am race the next morning. There was no way I could relax and re-hydrate in that cabin. As well, it would take extra time to pack up my mountain of stuff in the morning.

I drove to the race. After parking, I immediately took out my phone and booked a room at the Hampton Inn for that night. This was very fortuitous. It meant that I could relax and run my marathon knowing I would have a shower and a bed waiting for me afterward. It also meant that I would finish my race because I had already paid for the hotel room. I had nowhere to go so I might as well run 26 miles. My mind bought into this perspective and I had a great race. There was a cool breeze coming in from the north, keeping the weather mostly cool. I loved it. It was the first time in awhile that I ran in joy and not in wanting to quit. The 26 miles went by easily and fast.

Video on Day 1: https://youtu.be/ICSs3vhzAIo

Windmill along the course, Day 1
Riverboat on the Mississippi, Day 1

I finished the race in 5:57 by my Garmin, which didn’t include pit stops. I jogged most of the first 20 miles. Very happy with that.

After the race, I drove to the campground, packed up my stuff and checked into the Hampton Inn. The AC in the room was quiet! The room was clean. I showered. I began to re-hydrate with a real bathroom nearby, not having to pee in a cup (like at the cabin). I felt like a queen in my hotel room.

Day 2: The racing company gives you the same medal no matter what distance you do and you can switch distances after the race starts. I knew I didn’t plan to go more than 13 miles for a half marathon. I started jogging. After 5.5 miles I realized that my legs were tired and I didn’t want to push them. So I finished off a 10k and collected my medal. The sunrise was worth getting out of bed for.

Sunrise, Mississippi River, Day 2

I am extremely pleased that I had enough positive mental attitude to enjoy a full marathon. I am entered in a 50k in 6 weeks and I feel optimistic about that. My training plan is to keep lifting weights and keep putting in hot miles, even if walking. I have no injuries from my marathon.

As I started heading home, west bound on I80, I noticed that there are more semi-trucks on I80 than cars. It made for a slog from Davenport to Des Moines. But as I turned south on I35, it was smooth sailing. I guess no one wants to go to Missouri!

Something New

I will be participating in a two-day endurance event next week. I decided that instead of staying in a hotel, I’d try staying in this cabin in a park. Should be different. I don’t have a habitual pattern of behavior for a cabin, so my brain will have to work harder to figure things out. The campground does have wifi, but I won’t be bringing my computer. I’ll have a paper notebook and pen. I wonder what I will spend my post race afternoons and evenings doing? Alone with my thoughts, in a cabin, by a river, with no YouTube.

The endurance events are in Iowa, 5 hours north of here. The weather looks great: not that hot. Now I only need the patience to complete the events.

I am focused on endurance events. You would think that a sixty-something woman would forget about ultramarathons, but I haven’t. I am afforded this luxury because I go slow and the events have long cutoff times. I am afforded this luxury because I cover 70 to 80 miles every week. Oh, and I do a small amount of weight lifting. In fact, I retired from my career in order to run. So I am doing it.

In real life, the people I know think that old people have to be sick or on medication; and they are sure I’ll get mine. I’m just saying that you have a choice about well-being. Choose it. As I was out running this morning, it occurred to me that I don’t play by other people’s rules. I have ripped off the virtual reality headset of American mass consciousness.

Wait, I signed up for a 50-mile race? Is that not crazy? Of course, maybe. I love shuffling into the finish line after 13 hours of jogging.

Walking is one of the 4 Ws that I live by: worth, wonder, wealth, and walking.

Life is Amazing

If I never type another word in my life, then remember this, “Life is amazing.”

Not because any great thing happened to me today. Actually, I went running and got caught in a downpour. I mean, DOWNPOUR.

I was running on the above pictured trail, only on a day with 2-4 inches of water on the path and sheets of rain. Pretty funny. A 63-year-old woman who ought to know better, trying to sneak in a run between thunderstorms.

The run alone didn’t cause me to think life was amazing. Turning my life over to the care of my Higher Self is what makes life amazing. Knowing for a fact that I am cared for and I can trust my higher self with my life is what makes life amazing. I feel great when I get this trust.

I actually do know what I believe about the universe and how I fit within it. When I left my career, nearly 4 years ago, I stepped outside of the corporate culture and the busyness of salaried life. I faced the chance to experience reality in a new way, free of the corporate culture. I had the ability to pick and choose among society’s cultural offerings. I have been winding my way into more and more sunlight. Sunlight is what life should feel like, even when running in a tremendous downpour.

I Am Human

I woke up at 5 am today, and very soon, I got out of bed. I was thinking of going running very early since the day is to be very hot. I started running around 6:20 am. It was 76F and humid. I came upon this little fawn next to the bike path. There was no mama deer. This one’s eyes and ears were being attacked by bugs. So, I knew that it is not long for this world.

Anguish overtook me. It is this feeling that lets me know I am a normal human being and uniquely a human sentient being. It is to cherish, this feeling of anguish that only a human would have.

RIP little one. I appreciate the presence of life within you and respect that it will be leaving shortly.

God is Not

God is not omnibenevolent, but the essence of God is The Good.

God is not omnipresent, but the essence of God is The One.

God is not all-knowing, but the essence of God is Consciousness, thought itself.

God is not omnipotent, but the essence of God is Beauty (love and the ideal).

If you take freshman philosophy, you will hear about the three O God: omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Indeed, religion promotes this God. Many people, somewhat unconsciously, believe in this God. I make this claim because many people blame God for bad things saying, “Why did God take him?” I never believed in this God.

Reading Plato’s Phaedo, plus whatever else of philosophy and quantum physics I have studied, I surmised the above statements of what God is not. The statements also hint at what God could be. The essence of God is a magnificent and good feeling meditation, immediately joining me to my soul. Beauty, Consciousness, Oneness, The Good. I can easily join these essences.

Frustration

“…his (Descartes) system is such that it requires the individual consciousness to be convinced of the truth of what it thinks within the privacy of its own experience, for it starts from a consideration of the contents of its private consciousness, and therefore has to find reason to trust what appears to be conveyed into it, by experience and reason, from an external universe” (Descartes, Grayling, A.C., Walker and Company, New York, 2005).

I have been reading philosophy. I am finishing this long biography of Descartes, a famous philosopher from the 17th century known as the father of modern philosophy. The paragraph quoted above is a kind of summary. I quoted it because it describes my frustration with my spiritual status: I do not know my individual conscious exactly. I do not know the truth of what I think. I cannot seem to grasp who I am, especially since modern neuroscience indicates that I am not really a self anyway. In the privacy of my own experience and consciousness, I don’t know what to trust. I don’t know who or what is the universe that is supposed to be conveying truth into my consciousness.

I have also been reading Plato’s dialogs. I find Plato to be thought-provoking and enlivening. Plato directs me to think for myself and find out what I know of my own accord. Plato is known as the father of western philosophy. Plato lived 429-347 B.C. In Plato’s Republic, it says, “…the study of the ‘one’ would be one of the studies which lead and divert the soul towards the contemplation of real being.” For some reason, I find this sentence satisfying. I like the notion of “real being.” For some reason, I can feel “real being,” but it is indescribable also.

Jesus spent 18 years of his life outside the Gospel narratives. Between the age of 12, when we found him in the temple teaching the elders until the age of 30 when we find him in the desert with John the Baptist. Contemplate this silence. Go into your own silence. My consciousness, or my real being, and my relationship with my own soul are frustrated by input from many spiritual sources. I wonder if I am ready to stop the input and listen only to what is inside.

Photo by Kun Fotografi on Pexels.com

Surprising Results

Sometimes, when things go differently than planned, the results are better. How so you ask?

Last October 2021, I signed up for three marathons in three states in three days. This was not so unusual as I have done multi-day marathons before. I signed up so long ago because prices for events go up the closer to the event you get. The event itself was this past weekend. I have been anticipating the event for months. In the meantime, I have gone in a 50k race and dealt with a sore hip (from work), which restricted my training. But going into the weekend, I felt completely good in my hips and legs.

Day 1 marathon was in Miami, Oklahoma. I drove down the night before and stayed in a hotel. The race took place at a park near the Neosho River. To complete a marathon, we had to do 14 laps of the course. I started off running because I felt rested and good. It was not a hot day, but very humid. I was doing well for about 9 miles. Then I realized that if I was going to do three marathons in three days, I needed to slow down and put in walk breaks. I did put in the walk breaks. At which point I began to get bored and wonder why I was doing boring laps in a park. I got up to around 16 miles and realized that I was thinking of cheating in order to get done quicker. I realized that I cared nothing about notching my belt with another marathon. Then I thought, “Don’t cheat. If you’re not in this game then just quit.” After 9 laps/17+ miles, I realized that I didn’t want to do any more laps. So I went to the timing table and told them I was quitting. They gave me a half marathon medal without blinking an eye. It turns out that the half marathon medal was the same as the full marathon medal. So I got the bling and went home. I was quite happy to begin my 3 hour drive 2 hours sooner than planned.

Sunrise over the Neosho River

Day 2 race was in St Joseph Missouri, a short drive from my home. I woke up before the 4:30 am alarm and enthusiastically got out of bed. I was prepared to run a half marathon as fast as I could. No plan to try a full marathon suffer-fest. Just run the half and enjoy yourself. It was turning out that I much more enjoy a fast half marathon more than a slow full marathon, at least when the course is 14-16 laps of boredom.

Day 3 race was in Hiawatha Kansas, a short drive from my home. I woke up at 3am, a full hour before the alarm, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I checked the weather because thunderstorms were predicted. Depending on how bad they were, I knew I wouldn’t go to the race. There were storms but they didn’t look that bad. I would have to run in the rain, however. I was interested in getting my body to the race start and not in laying in bed. I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep regardless. So I made a bargain with myself. I said, “Get in the car and go to the race. If it is miserable, then just run a 5k, get your medal and go home.” That is, just get going and see what happens. I did it! I made it to the race and began running. I felt tired from the previous 2 days of racing, but not injured. It was raining so I wore a jacket. All the other racers were out there in jackets and ponchos, toughing it out. And there I was too, getting the miles done. But my brain wanted to cheat and go home. I was conscious of my brain trying to talk me out of what I was doing. If the rain had been worse, maybe I would have obeyed. But the rain wasn’t that bad and it did let up after I had run 10 miles and only had 3 to go. I finished! I didn’t cheat! I’m incredibly proud of myself.

What is all this about cheating you ask? Well, these races are very low-key. The timing is pretty loose. They have a start time. You tell the timer when you are done. Each lap you pick a rubberband off a table to keep track of how many laps you have run. Nothing stops you from picking up two rubber bands. Heck, you don’t even have to show the timer how many rubber bands you have when you say you are done. So really, it is up to the person to be honest with themselves. Some part of my brain strongly wants to cheat, but I never do. I think I endure my cheater brain every marathon I try to run. My brain is much more peaceful when a racecourse is a loop where you can’t cheat in order to get to the finish line.

What was the most memorable part of the 3 days? All 3 days there was a woman on the course who had both legs in full-length braces and used crutches. She was out there doing miles. I didn’t talk to her, but I watched. Why was she wearing braces and how strongly motivated she must be to get out there and do miles? Interesting. Here I am completely healthy and thinking about cheating, and I’m sharing the course with someone in leg braces. After I finished my race on day 3, the woman happened to be in the finish area, getting ready to start another lap. She asked me if I was done and was I coming to day 4 (it was an 8-day series but I signed up for 3 days). I said I wasn’t coming to day 4. She asked if she could take my picture. It turns out she wanted a selfie with me. I moved into position behind her shoulder. I could see myself in her camera. I look like a little kid in my ball cap, happy. She must have been watching me run miles while she was hobbling along. She wanted a picture with me. How special. I keep thinking about how I felt in that moment. It gives me goosebumps to think of it but I can’t explain why.

You would not believe how happy I was with myself about the results of this weekend: 3 races done at pretty good speed and no cheating. No laying in bed when I could have gone to a race. No useless suffering just to notch my belt. So this is what life can be about: how you feel about what you are doing, not what you seem to be doing.

The Robins

Outside my window is a bush. The bush only recently received its summer coat of leaves. Today I noticed that two robins are building a nest. The nest is hidden inside the bush. I can see the robins with bits of material in their beaks climbing into the bush from the bottom. I can see the bush rustle a bit as the bird climbs into its nesting location. Then I see the bird come out the top, minus the nesting material.

The universe can be contemplated in the silence of my room. I can see the bush go through its seasons of life and death as spring leaves turn brown and fall off in the fall. Then the bush sits in our frigid winter, waiting for spring. I can see clouds cross the sky. I can see the sun come up and go down. I can see other humans walking their dogs.

I take myself on a contemplative journey without leaving my table. I have become as nothing and nobody to the world. Yet the universe knows I am there thinking and observing. I accept that I have spent my life seeking my higher self. I get glimpses of this Self, sort of. The knowledge of my higher self is like the knowledge of the robins in the bush. I can see the bush shake, but I cannot see the bird. Hidden in the bush, new life will spring forth. Is this knowledge enough? It must be. Further knowledge is beyond my senses. Further knowledge can be known with my non-physical senses. Humans have this strange intuitive sense of knowing. Humans have this strange experience of the world through the lens of consciousness. Contemplate. Let go of everything else.

I accept that I am off grid from the world of achievement.